Years have gone by, and still the St. Pete Pier remains one of the great places to watch fireworks on New Year's Eve.
But tonight's celebration will have a nostalgic feel, as it's the last New Year's celebration at the old structure, with demolition plans to start this summer.
Two fireworks displays are set for 9 p.m. and midnight. The first band fired up shortly after 1 p.m. Monday and music will continue until 1 a.m.
In addition, there will be face painting, street entertainers and plenty of reminiscing.
"We did throw everything at it," said Susan Robertson of the St. Pete Pier. "I think anybody who's ever performed here before just about is here on New Year's Eve."
The owner of Jonny Reno's expects a slamming night of business.
"It's a free event. It's open to the public. It's family friendly. It's adult friendly. It's dog friendly, and it doesn't matter who you are, you'll be comfortable here, and you'll have a good time," said Jon LaBudde.
And there's plenty of motivation for residents to come out this year: The planned closing of the existing Pier on May 31, with demolition to start late next summer.
That was on the mind of St. Petersburg native Shirlel Harper.
"It's going to be gone, just detrimental, but what can we do?" she said. "I don't think everybody thought this day would ever come, but it has."
The Kroc family, who are from Chicago, said they started visiting the Pier 30 years ago.
"Not a good feeling," Jeanie Kroc said. "I mentioned to my husband when we were coming up here that it's going to be like losing an old friend."
City hall's plan is to replace the old upside down pyramid with a new structure called "The Lens." But a group called Stop The Lens thinks differently. They're starting mailing petitions, calling for a vote to kill the project.
"It's up to the public to stop it, OK. I think the public really needs to be heard," Fred Whaley said. "So we're going to bring it to a vote."
But that would be a vote on stopping The Lens – not the existing Pier.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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